Brenner Railway

Brenner Railway

Innsbruck-Bozen-Verona railway

The Brenner Railway or Brennerbahn or Ferrovia del Brennero is a major line connecting the Austrian and Italian railways from Innsbruck to Verona, climbing up the Wipptal (German for “Wipp Valley”), passing over the Brenner Pass, descending down the Eisacktal (German for “Eisack Valley”) to Bolzano/Bozen, then further down the Adige Valley to Rovereto/Rofreit, and along the section of the Adige Valley, called in Italian the “Vallagarina”, to Verona. This railway line is part of the Line 1 of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). It is considered a "fundamental" line by the state railways Ferrovie dello Stato (FS).

Brenner Railway History

The railway line was designed under the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the mid-19th century to ensure rapid and safe transport between Tyrol and northern Italy, especially Lombardy-Venetia. It was thus strategically important not only for economic but also for military reasons, as Austria was strongly committed to maintaining its borders south of the Alps.

The first section to be built was the lower section between Verona and Bolzano/Bozen. The design of this section was approved on 10 July 1853 by the engineer Alois Negrelli, an employee of the Südbahn, known for having built other Alpine railway lines and for developing a project of the Suez Canal.

The section was opened in two different parts: on 23 March 1859 between Verona to Trento/Trient and 16 May 1859 from Trento/Trient to Bolzano/Bozen. This construction was handled by the k.k. Nord- und SüdTiroler Staatsbahn or "North and South Tyrol State Railways", but the company was taken over by the new Austrian Southern Railway (German: Südbahn) at the beginning of 1859.

Despite the loss of Veneto in the Third Italian War of Independence and its consequent shift of the border between Italy and Austria to Borghetto on the current boundary of Trentino and Verona in October 1866, the upper section from Bolzano/Bozen to Innsbruck was incomplete. The 127-kilometre (79 mi) route from Innsbruck to Bolzano/Bozen took only three years to build.

This section had been under construction and was finally opened on 24 August 1867. The main designer and engineer, Karl von Etzel, died in 1865; he was not able to witness the completion of his work. After the Semmering railway, this Brenner Line was the second mountain railway built within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was also the first through line to cross over the Alps.

The section south of Borghetto became part of the Società per le strade ferrate dell'Alta Italia (Italian for Upper (Northern) Italian Railways, SFAI) in 1866. In the 1885 reorganisation it was absorbed by the Società per le Strade Ferrate Meridionali (Adriatic Network). The line came under the control of Ferrovie dello Stato upon its establishment in 1905.

In 1919, Italy acquired Trentino-South Tyrol under the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the Austro-Italian border moved to Brenner. The section from Trento/Trient to Brenner was subsequently electrified at 3,700 V at three-phase 16.7 Hz between 1929 and 1934. Electrification was converted to 3,000 V DC on 30 May 1965.

In preparation for the proposed Brenner Base Tunnel, the Innsbruck bypass was completed in 1994 to improve access to the Lower Inn Valley railway. The bypass consists of a 12.75-kilometre (7.92 mi) tunnel (Austria's longest) and aims to remove the bulk of the freight train traffic from Innsbruck. In Italy, several new sections have been built, removing sections of line with several short tunnels with small cross sections. These include the 13,159-metre-long (43,173 ft) Sciliar tunnel opened in 1994, the 7,267-metre-long (23,842 ft) Pflersch tunnel opened in 1999 and the 3,939-metre-long (12,923 ft) Cardano tunnel opened in 1998.

Brenner Railway Future

Following a sharp increase in freight traffic through the Brenner Pass (largely on road), the railway is currently considered to have insufficient capacity. Moreover, its steep grades, tight radius bends and the need to change locomotive engines at Brenner due to two different electrical systems as used in Austria and Italy mean that the average travel speed is low. For these reasons, the creation of a new line is planned from Verona to Munich via Innsbruck. At the heart of this project lies a 55-kilometre-long (34 mi) tunnel between Franzensfeste and Innsbruck, known as the Brenner Base Tunnel.

Brenner Railway Route

The maximum grade on the track is 31 per thousand. The minimum curve radius is 264 metres (866 ft). The highest point of the track is Brenner station at 1,371 metres (4,498 ft), which is also the highest point reached on the standard gauge networks of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and the Italian Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) networks.

To overcome the steep climb (796 metres (2,612 ft) between Innsbruck and Brenner) two spiral tunnels were built, using the sides of a valley at St. Jodok on the Austrian side and the sides of the Pflerschtal (German for "Pflersch Valley") on the Italian side.

At Brenner station, located on the Brenner Pass (1,371 metres; 4,498 ft), there is a monument to the designer, Karl von Etzel. This station is situated at the border between Italy and Austria and also the operational border between the ÖBB and FS networks. The two companies operate different electrical systems, (15,000 V AC at 16.7 Hz in Austria, and 3,000 V DC in Italy), which requires a stop to change electric locomotives.

For this reason, for a long time the operation of express trains from Munich to Verona and Milan was carried out with diesel railcars. Until 30 May 1965 was also needed a second engine change in Bolzano station, as the Bolzano-Brenner section still operated under three-phase AC electrification.

In recent years the introduction of multicurrent rolling stock, which can be run on both the Austrian and Italian networks, has made it possible, at least in principle, to avoid locomotive changes. However, the need for locomotives to carry equipment for different signalling systems and to have safety approvals for different networks and lines, and the need for staff to know operating rules and routes has limited multicurrent operations in practice.

Brenner Railway

Innsbruck-Bozen-Verona Railway

Brenner Railway Overview

Brenner Railway Line Number:
302 02 Austria
42 (Brenner-Bozen)
43 (Bozen-Verona)
Brenner Railway Locale: Austria and Italy
Brenner Railway Service Route Number:
300 (Salzburg Hbf - Brennero/Brenner)
301 (Jenbach - Telfs-Pfaffenhofen / Steinach in Tirol)
50 (Italy)
Brenner Railway Line Length: 275.4 km (171.1 mi)
Brenner Railway Track Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1/2 in) standard gauge
Brenner Railway Minimum Radius: 264 m (866 ft)
Brenner Railway Electrification:
15 kV 16.7 Hz Austria
3 kV Italy
Brenner Railway Operating Speed: 180km/h (max)
Brenner Railway Maximum Incline:
north ramp: 2.5%
south ramp: 2.25%

Brenner Railway Route Map

km                      elev
from Kufstein

Innsbruck Hbf
S1   S2   S3   S4   S5  582 metres m AMSL

Arlberg and Mittenwald railways
76.725 Bergisel tunnel 662m
78.198 Sonnenburg tunnel 249m
Innsbruck bypass
79.646 Innsbruck Hbf 1 junction
80.291 Ahrnwald tunnel 165m
80.809 Schupfen tunnel 35m
81.295 Unterberg-Stefansbrücke  S3   S4 716 m AMSL
81.648 Unterberg tunnel 49m
82.662 Patsch tunnel 176m
83.905 Innsbruck Hbf 2 crossover
84.718 Patsch  S3   S4 784 m AMSL
85.403 Schönberg tunnel 89m
85.726 Mühltal tunnel 872m
86.936 Moserwiese tunnel 74m
91.847 Matrei tunnel 124m
93.281 Matrei am Brenner  S3   S4 995 m AMSL
97.884 Steinach in Tirol  S3   S4 1048 m AMSL
101.918 St. Jodok  S4 1141 m AMSL
102.427 Sankt Jodok spiral tunnel480m
104.323 Stafflach tunnel 283m
106.189 Gries tunnel 173m
106.651 Gries am Brenner  S4 1255 m AMSL
106.917 Steinach in T. 2 crossover
110.9 Brennersee1351 m AMSL
111.145 Steinach in T. 4 junction
track 302 11 to the terminal
111.425 Brennersee Terminal
111.561 maintenance border ÖBB / RFI

Border Austria / Italy

239.533 Brennero/Brenner  S4 1371 m AMSL
236.2 Brennerbad (former spa)1310 m AMSL
13.1 Moncucco/Schelleberg 1242 m AMSL
Pflersch tunnel 7.267m
Ast spiral tunnel 761m
226.7 Fleres/Pflersch 1130 m AMSL
222.8 Colle Isarco/Gossensaß 1100 m AMSL
Eisack bridge I 1 span
217.0 Vipiteno/Sterzing 943 m AMSL
Campo di Trens/Freienfeld 935 m AMSL
Palude di Vipiteno bridge 3 spans
208.9 Mules/Mauls900 m AMSL
204.3 Le Cave/Grasstein 843 m AMSL
200.8 Mezzaselva/Mittewald 798 m AMSL
197.0 Fortezza/Franzensfeste 747 m AMSL
197.0 Puster Valley railway (S.Candido/Innichen)
192.19 Varna/Vahrn650 m AMSL
188.36 Bressanone/Brixen577 m AMSL
Eisack bridge II2 spans
184.70 Albès/Albeins548 m AMSL
Funes/Villnöß539 m AMSL
178.24 Chiusa/Klausen Grödner railway 523 m AMSL
172.43 Ponte Gardena/Waidbruck 422 m AMSL

Rötele bridge1 span
Castelrotto/Kastelruth/428 m AMSL
Schlern tunnel13.159 m
Campodazzo/Atzwang373 m AMSL
Eisack bridge I 2 spans
Tunnel VII 55m
Tunnel VI 72m
Tunnel V 60m
Tunnel IV 62m
Tunnel III 79m
Tunnel II 57m
Völsersteig/ Fiè allo Sciliar 340m AMSL
Tunnel I 40m

157.99 Prato all'Isarco/Blumau 315m AMSL

Kardaun tunnel 3.789m
Prato Tires tunnel 430m

Cardano/Kardaun283 m AMSL
Kardaun bridge1 span
150.23 Bolzano/Bozen 266m AMSL
Überetsch Railway
148.59 To Merano
142.56 Laives/Leifers 230m AMSL
139.29 Bronzolo/Branzoll 227m AMSL
134.17O ra/Auer223m AMSL

128.40 Egna/Neumarkt 217m AMSL
124.42 Magrè/Margreid–Cortaccia/Kurtatsch 216m AMSL
118.99 Salorno/Salurn 211m AMSL
111.62 Mezzocorona
to Mezzolombardo

110.50 Trento-Malè railway
104.32 Lavis
95.43 Trento goods station
94.79 Trento
93.01 To Venice
87.22 Mattarello

78.91 Calliano, closed 12.12.2004
71.21 Rovereto
66.91 Mori Rovereto-Arco-Riva railway
60.86 Serravalle
54.68 Ala
50.36 Avio
45.48 Borghetto
40.36 Peri
32.77 Dolcè

22.80 Domegliara–S.Ambrogio
16.98 Pescantina
11.65 Verona Parona
6.39 S.Massimo junction/P.C. to Milan and Bologna
Adige river
3.37 Verona Porta Nuova
0.00 Verona Porta Vescovo
To Venice

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